Local Sikh Community Lends a Big Helping Hand to the Homeless || SNE
By SNE .
Dec 28, 2018
Three truckloads of food on Thursday were just part of the mountain of donations to Windsor’s Street Help Homeless Centre this week by the local Sikh community.
“They’re such a wonderful group of people with a wonderful spirit of giving,” Street Help administrator Christine Wilson-Furlonger said of the Windsor Sports & Culture Centre’s holiday donations. “We are very grateful — they show us so much love.”
In addition to filling up the homeless centre’s depleted pantry shelves, the WSCC, in its 14th year of giving to Street Help, also donated more than 75 sleeping bags, 70 blankets and comforters, 40 pairs of winter boots, hygiene products and a $1,000 cheque.
This week’s offerings to Street Help were the result of the WSCC’s winter holiday donation drive, said Sukhpal Banga, secretary of the social organization.
It’s been quite a blessing to us
Sikhs don’t celebrate the religious meaning behind Christmas, but “we celebrate with our Christian friends,” said Banga. “The main thing is, we help the community through the Christmas holidays.”
Banga estimates there are about 1,000 Sikh families in the Windsor area. Additionally, he said, there are several thousand foreign students from the Indian subcontinent currently taking classes in Windsor, a large number of them enrolled at St. Clair College.
Banga said members of the non-profit WSCC organize sports tournaments — basketball, volleyball, soccer, kids’ races — and fundraise within the community for a number of area charities, for which they also volunteer.
“They adopted us as a charity in the community … it’s been quite a blessing to us,” said Wilson-Furlonger.
“The nice, warm comforters and a lot of beautiful sleeping bags were really needed, so needed,” she said. Her agency is seeing a growing number of local homeless, which is why it ran out of sleeping bags earlier this year for those who sleep in the streets.
The donated foods, she said, “will make a lot of great warm meals.”
Street Help, at 964 Wyandotte St. E., operates a daily food bank, and Wilson-Furlonger said it’s the only one in Windsor designed for those who don’t have their own homes with kitchens in which to prepare, cook and serve meals.
Juices, granola bars, comfort foods and cans with peel-back lids are some of the items desired by its clients, who tend to travel as light as possible. Wilson-Furlonger said the food bank also caters to people “couch-crashing” with friends, family or acquaintances.
“If I can give you food you can take back and share with your host … it might help you stay a while longer,” she said.
Street Help is always looking for new donations. Wilson-Furlonger said more sleeping bags are welcome, and there’s a current need for men’s and women’s “warm, sensible winter footwear,” with men’s sizes 9 to 13 and women’s sizes 7 to 11 the most popular.
Thanks to the efforts of others, socks, hats and scarves are in relatively good supply, but warm gloves in large sizes are needed. The homeless tend to use several pairs at once, layering them for more effective control against the cold.